Some questions about accents

miscology gb United Kingdom

I've started watching a lot of French television so I'm now being exposed to a lot of new accents that I haven't heard before.

  • The presenter of this show sounds very Italian to me even though she is speaking French. Is this how people sound in Corsica?
  • Why does the French "R" sound very different from region to region? If I used the English "R" would I still be understood all across France?

November 08 at 15:32
  • KatySLanguages fr France

    Hi,

    There are many accents in France, but the biggest difference would be between South (Meditarrean area, South and South West) and the rest of France. In Bordeaux, Languedoc,Toulouse, Marseille, Corsica... pronunciation is very different, especially vowels and rythm. And yes, it can be closer to Italian or Spanish pronunciation.

    There have been many diferent languages and dialects in France for a very long time. The use of French in whole France is quite recent and was an imposition from the government, with punishments against kids who used other languages. I'm talking of a period of time that goes more or less from 1880 to 1950. Talking a language different from French became a shame and little by little most of languages and dialects desepeared. But of course the way French was spoken was very different, because of the influence of the original languages spoken in each area. That's why you hear French spoken in very different ways even today and of course the "r" can be pronounced very differently. The most common today is the standard pronunciation, with slight geaografical differences, it's the one young generations and most people under 70 use. The rolled r is now out dated, even in the South. The dorso-velar one too (the r you can hear in Edith Piaf or Jacques Brel songs). So yes, you can pronounce the "r" differently. But you wil still have to make an effort on pronunciation. If you speak French with a very srtong English, American or Spanish accent, you won't be understood. If the accent is just a slight English "r", then yes, no problem.

    November 10 at 10:44